Politics of Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Source: GNA

PNC spells-out its agricultural policy for Election 2012

The People’s National Convention (PNC) has tagged agriculture and food security as the main stay of the nation’s economy based on which the electorates should vote for its presidential candidate Mr Hassan Ayariga on December 7.

“Food production is the Central Processing Unit (CPU) of the nation. It provides the fuel that drives the nation’s life. That is why the PNC finds the present high cost of food unacceptable as it is beyond the reach of the ordinary Ghanaian.

“The PNC also finds unacceptable the present situation whereby the bulk of the nation’s foreign exchange is spent on the importation of food that can be produced locally,” the PNC said.

The PNC in its Election 2012 Manifesto obtained by the Ghana News Agency (GNA), claimed that it would bring on board an integrated programme comprising the government, farmers, financial institutions, agricultural mechanization companies, input suppliers and industry on a revolving basis.

“The methodology of the programme shall be to group small scale farmers who produce the bulk of the nation’s food and the youth into co-operatives and make them the main vehicle towards achieving food sufficiency for the nation.

“A PNC government will depoliticize the sale or supply of farm machinery to individuals and facilitate as well as encourage the establishment of plant pools of farm machinery by the private sector to provide prompt and timely services to farmers at approved rate," it said.

According to the Manifesto, mechanization companies would plough the farms of the various cooperative groups and their accounts debited with the cost by the banks upon certification by agriculture extension officers.

Under regulation and ownership, the PNC said through the Department of Co-operatives, the Ministry of Agriculture would organize small scale farmers and the youth into co-operatives.

It would acquire suitable farm lands, provide irrigation facilities, arrange mechanization services, guarantee loans from financial institutions, supply farm inputs, supervise application of inputs, monitor performance of farms from planting to harvesting and ensure prompt repayment of loans.

"To further ensure that the nation achieved food sufficiency within the shortest possible time, our government shall acquire large tracts of lands and lease them to individuals, co-operate organizations, companies and investors who may wish to do large-scale farming.

"Public servants and private individuals will be encouraged and assisted to do backyard farming, high yielding crop varieties and scientific methods of farming will be introduced to farmers to increase yields,” it said.

The PNC administration will aim at increasing cocoa production from the present one million metric tons to about 1.5 million metric tons within the first four years in office.

“We shall achieve this by replanting all fallow cocoa farms, mass distribution of fertilizers, ensuring accessibility of chemicals by farmers, and effective measures to stop smuggling of cocoa, including moving cocoa depots away from boarders to curtail smuggling," it said.

According to the Manifesto, more irrigation dams would be constructed across the country to enable all year round farming.

It said: “To facilitate easy transportation of farm produce and people to urban areas, feeder roads linking all food production areas will be given high priority. A railway network to aid in transportation will be another priority of a PNC administration”.

It said a PNC administration hoped to rehabilitate abandoned silos and build new ones to help improve food storage system, reduce post-harvest lost and provide food security during the lean periods, it said.

“Our government, when given the nod, will review the existing fishing laws and block all loopholes that tend to put our fisher folks at a disadvantage. We shall also explore other ways of reviving and revamping the fishing industry.

“In this direction, our administration will tackle and solve the perennial problem of non-availability of pre-mix fuels and other fishing inputs.

“We will work closely with the Ghana National Association of Farmers and Fishermen to explore ways of assembling outboard motors and manufacturing fishing nets locally.

“We will make fish farming a key module under the National Youth Employment programme to encourage the youth to engage in fish farming and initiate policy to make it a viable source of income," the Manifesto said.

It said a PNC government would establish large plantations of sheanut trees, a sheanut marketing board will be established; expand and create more shea-butter factories to create more jobs for the youth and women in the Northern Region.

Meanwhile, a survey conducted by the National Commission for Civic Education, titled “Election 2012: Matters of Concern to the Ghanaian Voter” obtained by the GNA, revealed that 48.2 per cent of respondent suggested the government should subsidize agriculture inputs.

Another 21.1 per cent said government must give financial support to farmers in form of loans and scholarships for children of farmers to enable them to continue their education to the highest level whilst 8.1 per cent called on government to provide market for farmers and also fix prices of agriculture crops.

About 7.3 per cent respondents called for mechanized farming, 5.3 per cent appealed for the provision of irrigation and access roads by government, 4.6 per cent wanted government to make farming attractive to the youth, 4.1 per cent called for the provision of storage facilities for agricultural products and 1.3 per cent suggested the reintroduction of state farms by government.